Getting trapped is a primal fear, and our modern world offers no reprieve. Daily we’re caught in traffic jams, shut up in elevators, chained to a desk, and for some, nabbed by the police. Nor are we free of psychological traps: abusive relationships, obsessions and compulsions, and cycles of revenge. Fiction is one way to work through your fears, and this issue of AHMM offers some thrilling stories of entrapment and escape—our means of ensnaring you in our pages.
In our cover story by Joslyn Chase, a young woman must leave her Yorkshire home to work at her uncle’s Whitechapel pub, “The Wolf and Lamb,” during the terror wrought by Jack the Ripper. Joseph Walker describes the desperate journey of a woman escaping an abusive marriage in “Etta at the End of the World.” Three characters revisit the heady days of college—and the jealousies that festered for thirty-five years—in Elizabeth Zelvin’s “Reunion.” A private jet on the way to a corporate retreat is the setting for Ken Brosky’s locked-room story, “Airless Confinement.” In 1920s New York City, a shoeshine gets caught up in another man’s betting scheme in “Probable Cause” by John G. Wimer.
Meanwhile, real estate and revenge motivate the characters of Sarah Weinman’s “Limited Liability,” and Janice Law’s prim widow takes justice into her own hands years after the death of her husband in “The Client.” Bob Tippee’s executive draws on his own character failings for drastic ends in “A Bias for Action,” while Officer Grant Tripp’s brother falls under suspicion for a string of robberies in Eve Fisher’s “Brother’s Keeper.” And the perpipatetic Buck and Wiley return in Parker Littlewood’s “Buck Solves the Case,” while two girls find the body of a drowned bank robber in Michael Bracken’s “Sleepy River.”
This issue also offers whodunits featuring distinctive PIs. Jeff Cohen’s Samuel Hoenig finds that his experience of being on the autism spectrum gives him an edge in parsing the cryptic statements of a young man awaiting trial for murder in “The Question of the Befuddled Judge.” Mark Thielman’s handsome PI—known as the Spud Stud for his side work as a special assistant in potato promotion—solves the murder of a natural foods store manager in “The Case of the Cereal Killer.” The mystery writer Shanks is called to locate old associates of a wealthy music producer on the eve of his death in Rob Lopresti’s “Shanks Saves the World.”
Finally, we are delighted to introduce a new feature, knowing that our readers often take a keen interest in the realities behind the fiction: former police detective Lee Lofland will offer in each issue insights into the working lives and daily realities of those involved in law enforcement.
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by Joseph S. Walker
After she left the truck stop south of Jacksonville, Etta kept passing signs with names she’d heard all her life from TV and people with the time and money for vacations. Orlando. Tampa. Daytona Beach. It all felt imaginary, but then Florida felt imaginary, like a giant billboard for itself. She passed a lot of palm trees before she accepted that they were real. She couldn’t always see the ocean off to her left, but she knew it was there, knew it by the wind and a smell that would never touch Iowa. The sky was big and blue and untouched until the late afternoon, when mountainous clouds started to rise up out of the east. It was like driving into a 3-D antidepressant commercial, but she felt an itch at the back of her neck all day. She was cutting herself off. There was only one direction to go now, and if they found her, no place else to run.
Of course, running wasn’t really the idea. READ MORE
by Mark Thielman
I used a ten-pound bag of organic, gluten-free cake flour as a pillow. It wasn’t goose down, but it seemed pretty soft. Maybe it was the absence of glutens. Maybe I felt too tired to care.
I laid on top of my Kennebec costume with the flour for my head. On farms, the Kennebec is a fast growing, late maturing potato. Here, it served as a pad to help me catch some sleep. I rested about as comfortably as a guy could, if one happened to be stretched across a pallet in the back room of the Natural Nation Food Emporium. My potato suit sagged into the breaches between the boards of the pallet, my legs lay on the chill floor. Still, I got some sleep. Until the scream woke me.
by Laurel Flores Fantauzzo
To use the term “evil” can risk hyperbole. “Evil” can be an overly moralistic accusation, summoning anachronistic legends of monsters and celestial retribution. Human ethics, though, call for us to note what are unacceptable acts in human community. What horrific choices must we censure and contain in our midst? In this issue, Booked and Printed follows two narrators in their encounters with unspeakable cruelty: the surprises and coping mechanisms they employ in confrontations with evil, as they struggle to face and name it. READ MORE
We give a prize of $25 to the person who invents the best mystery story (in 250 words or less, and be sure to include a crime) based on the photograph provided in each issue. The story will be printed in a future issue. READ THE MOST RECENT WINNING STORY.
Acrostic puzzle by Arlene Fisher
Solve the clues to reveal an interesting observation about an author and their work! Shh! The solution to the puzzle will appear in the next issue. CURRENT ISSUE'S PUZZLE
by Mark Lagasse
Unscramble the letters of each numbered entry to spell the name of a famous sleuth. MOST RECENT PUZZLE